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Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant has resigned but...

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant has resigned but will stay with the team as a consultant, the NFL team said Saturday.

Grant, 56, made the suprise announcement in Honolulu when he told Vikings President Max Winter of his decision Friday. Winter makes his off season home in Hawaii and both were in Honolulu to attend the Pro Bowl.

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An announcement on a new Vikings coach was expected to be made Sunday at 2 p.m. CST at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu.

Assistant Coach Les Steckel, who joined the Vikings in 1979, was considered a leading candidate for the Vikings' coaching job.

Northwest Airlines confirmed Steckel had reservations on a flight to Honolulu Saturday.

The new coach will be only the third head coach in the 23-year history of the franchise. Norm van Brocklin coached Minnesota the first six years and was succeeded by Grant in 1967.

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Grant said he is not interested in another coaching job in the NFL or elsewhere.

'I'm not burned out,' said Grant. 'I've enjoyed coaching so much that I never looked forward to retirement from my job. I don't have any aspirations to take another coaching job or coach in another league.

'There are recreational things that I want to do that football doesn't permit. You have to do these things while you have your health and vitality. When you work six months and 26 weekends in a row, seven days a week, you can't do much outside of football.'

Mike Lynn, general manager of the Vikings, said Grant decided to quit last Wednesday and would not change his mind, even when Lynn offered him more money. Grant will stay on as a consultant fulfilling the final year of his three-year contract.

'After that he will likely stay with the operation in some other capacity besides head coach,' said Vikings spokesman Merrill Swanson. 'I think he'd like to stay around, but not on 12 hours a day seven days a week.

'Bud has his priorities and family has always been first. Probably his health comes second and the Vikings third.

'I know he loves to hunt, he loves to fish. He loves the out-of-doors. I imagine he wanted to have more free time,' Swanson said.

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Swanson said Winter and Lynn wanted to name a coach within 72 hours of the annoucememt and agreed with Grant the assistant coaches be retained for at least a year.

'Bud is protecting his guys, which is typical.'

Asked who might be named new head coach, Swanson said, 'I wouldn't have any idea who they might pick. Not in the slightest.'

Lynn says Grant is leaving as a legend -- like George Halas of the Chicago Bears and Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers.

'Bud certainly rates in their category. We looked at what happened to the Bears and Packers after Halas and Lombardi quit coaching. And you can't replace a legend or an institution like Bud Grant.'

Grant told the Minneapolis Star and Tribune in a copyright article there was no pressure on him to quit.

'In my mind, timing is a most important thing, Grant said. 'I decided this was the time to quit. There wasn't any pressure on me. There are a lot of things I want to do while I still have my health.'

Winter said Grant's decision to quit 'was a shock.

'I never thought the time would come that he would want to quit coaching,' Winter said. 'In my book he is the best football coach who ever lived.'

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Grant has coached for 27 years, 17 with the Vikings and 10 with the Winnipeg Bombers.

The Vikings finished 8-8 last season, unable to win the Central Division title, but Grant said that did not influence him.

The Vikings have compiled a regular-season record of 151-87-5. They made the playoffs 12 times, have won 15 division titles, one NFL title and three NFC titles, but never the Super Bowl in their four appearances.

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